Simple, family-style, seaside entertaining

By TASTE, 29 March 2018

When you live a stone’s throw from the sea, with two sons and a husband who is partial to foraging, summer lunches are both laidback and epic. Abigail Donnelly shows us how she loves to entertain, family–style, with platters of freshly caught seafood, smoky kebabs and a showstopper dessert.

Your sea harvest

You can collect sea urchins, octopus and limpets (pictured below) if you have the correct permits. Abi’s best way to eat sea urchins involves cutting off the tops (wear oven gloves to protect yourself from the spines), scooping out the roe and lightly frying it in garlic, chilli and olive oil, then folding it through Woolworths’ squid-ink pasta. Limpets can be removed from their shells and beaten with a mallet until tender. Toss them in flour and pan-fry in butter and olive oil. Add a squeeze of lemon and enjoy!

sea urchins, octopus, limpets

Try the grilled octopus recipe here.

Celeriac, radish and samphire salad

“Salty samphire (you’ll find this sea veg at Woolies) makes a delicious match with peppery radish and earthy celeriac in this crunchy salad.”

celeriac, radish and samphire salad recipe

Try this recipe here.

Chicken espetada with peri-peri

Braai a few of these extra-big kebabs to share, and remove the tender chicken pieces from the skewers at the table to eat with the pickled watermelon rind.

Chicken espetada with peri-peri recipe

“The guys aren't allowed to touch these kebabs. I know exactly how I like them done – nice and caramelised – so I do the braaiing!" – Abigail Donnelly

Try this recipe here.

Fish cakes with lemon-caper aïoli

These no-mash fish cakes are delicious as a light starter. You can also make small cakes (or even balls) to pass around on a platter with a large bowl of the aïoli for everyone to nibble on (double the fish cake quantities). Serve with the lemon-caper aïoli.

fish cakes with lemon caper aïoli recipe

"Bring out a tray of negronis while everyone's nibbling on these fish cakes - the colour match is amazing" – Abigail Donnelly

Try this recipe here.

Easy pickled watermelon rind

Another of our favourite ways to use watermelon rind (also see the ‘wacky no-waste salad bowls’ recipe here) once you’ve eaten the flesh. The rind quickly takes on the flavour of the dressing and makes for a mouthwatering, crunchy pickle.

Easy pickled watermelon rind recipe

Try this recipe here.

Poached leek panzanella

“I did something different with this classic Tuscan summer salad by leaving out the tomato and using green veggies instead!”

Poached leek panzanella recipe

Cook's note: Panzanella is a great way to use up stale ciabatta – charred over the coals and drenched in garlic dressing. Totally addictive. And once you've poached the leeks for this recipe, freeze the liquid to add flavour to risottos, soups and stews.

Try the recipe here.


“We have mussel beds just across the road but my favourites are from Cape Point Nature Reserve – Terry loves going there at low-tide and coming home with a fresh harvest.”

Mussels recipe

Chef's secret: Abi picked up this easy way to prepare mussels from chef Kobus van der Merwe from Wolgat in Paternoster. “There’s no liquid or stock involved,” she says, “just a little oil in a very hot pan (preferably cast iron), which you can also heat over the coals if you like. The mussels take about five minutes to open and I love serving them on a bed of seaweed.”

Baked Alaska

Baked Alaska recipe

“Ice cream, cake and meringue: a few of my family’s favourite things in one showstopping summer dessert."

Try this recipe here.


Whether you’re fishing or foraging, make sure you have a permit, says Abi. It’s the right thing to do.

“My family fell in love with our beach long before we moved to Glencairn six years ago. When we lived in Cape Town, Terry and I would take our sons, Jack and Matthew, to spend the day swimming, then go to Dixie’s Restaurant and Bar for milkshakes and toasties before heading back to the city. Now we’re lucky enough to live right next door to this neighbourhood institution. It’s a wonderful community – everyone pulls together to keep the beach free from litter, grows plants on the pathways, and we make sure we have permits (usually available from the SA Post Office) to fish and harvest (this also applies to seaweed) from the sea and rockpools.”

For information on permits, including size and quantity restrictions, visit, and download the recreational fishing brochure for the relevant year from

Discover more features here.


Article by TASTE

The TASTE team is a happy bunch of keen cooks and writers, always on the look out for the next food trend or the next piece of cake.
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